Jose Maria Lopez has been confirmed at Toyota Gazoo Racing for a full-season campaign, as part of a driver shakeup and expansion to a third TS050 Hybrid for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Spa races.
The three-time WTCC champion will join Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayshi, replacing Stephane Sarrazin, who moves to the Japanese manufacturer’s new third entry for Le Mans.
Lopez, who revealed an interest in shifting to sports car racing full-time, reportedly tested the TS050 Hybrid last year with impressive results, promoting Toyota to alter its lineup for 2017.
“This is a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to get to the first race,” Lopez said. “Mike and Kamui are both great team-mates; I will learn plenty from them I am sure.
“Driving an LMP1 car is very different compared to WTCC cars but I am enjoying this challenge. The power and grip of the TS050 Hybrid is incredible and Toyota’s hybrid technology is impressive.
“I am looking forward to my first experience of WEC and particularly Le Mans which is a very special race.”
The 33-year-old Argentinean is coming off another championship-winning WTCC season with Citroen, having scored eight wins and 11 podium finishes.
Toyota’s lineup in its sister entry remains unchanged with 2014 WEC champions Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi again being joined by Kazuki Nakajima.
“I would like to welcome José María to our team; I am confident he will fit in well as he is quick, intelligent and a strong team player,” said team president Toshio Sato.
“Our existing drivers have already proven their abilities in endurance racing; all are race winners and we are very happy to work together again.”
Toyota will present its updated TS050 Hybrid on March 31 in Monza, prior to the two-day pre-season Prologue test at the Italian circuit.